Lt. Gen. Khalid Rabbani, who commands 150,000 troops in the northwest leading the fight against militancy, scoffed at the notion his men could become attracted to extremism. "This is absolute rubbish, leaps and bounds away from reality," he said. "We are as disciplined a force as the British or American or any other first class army in the world."
Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country teeming with disgruntled Muslims, is a strategic priority for Hizb ut-Tahir, ex-members and analysts said.
A Britain-based spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is strong among British Pakistanis, declined comment on Khan. But he said the group has recruited officers and would continue to do so.
"We call on the people in the armed forces to use their authority and fulfill their Islamic duty of stopping the political and military leaderships' transgressions," Taji Mustafa said in an email.
Image: In this Monday, May 7, 2012 photo, the commander of Pakistan's forces along the frontier Lt. Gen. Khalid Rabbani smiles during an interview with The Associated Press in Peshawar, Pakistan.